Sens. Murkowski, Manchin shepherd inclusion of Energy Act of 2020 into appropriations bill

Published on December 23, 2020 by Dave Kovaleski

© Shutterstock

The bicameral Energy Act of 2020 — which features provisions from multiple bills, including the Senate’s American Energy Innovation Act and the House’s Clean Economy Innovation and Jobs Act – has been included in the Appropriations Act of 2021.

If approved, the legislation would become the first comprehensive modernization of the nation’s energy policies in 13 years. It moves to the House and Senate for consideration this week.

The package was put together by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who serve as chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The two lawmakers spent months negotiating with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Greg Walden (R-OR), leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, along with Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK), leaders of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. All or part of 37 Senate bills are included, including 29 bipartisan bills.

“The Energy Act represents the first modernization of our nation’s energy policies in well over a decade. This bipartisan package will foster innovation across the board on a range of technologies that are critical to our energy and national security, our long-term economic competitiveness, and the protection of our environment,” Murkowski said. “This has been a years-long effort that would not have been possible without great partners on both our committee and the committees of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives.”

The Energy Act of 2020 supports the transition to a low-carbon economy by investing in clean energy, distributed energy resources, energy storage systems, and microgrids. The Energy Act prioritizes research, development, and demonstration of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, industry, and buildings. The package focuses on energy storage; advanced nuclear; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; carbon removal; renewable energy; critical minerals and materials; fusion; industrial technologies; smart manufacturing; and grid modernization, among other areas. It reauthorizes popular, proven-effective programs like ARPA-E and Weatherization Assistance.

The package also includes several measures designed to boost energy efficiency, like $1.73 billion over five years for low-income energy efficiency retrofits. In addition, it supports energy efficiency in federal buildings by codifying the Federal Energy Management Program.

The omnibus also includes the PIPES Act of 2020, which reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2023. The PIPES Act of 2020 requires the immediate repair of any existing or future methane leaks and natural gas pipeline operators to undertake advanced leak detection and repair programs. The bill would also direct PHMSA to update its current regulations for large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities while increasing civil penalties for violators.

“The Energy Act of 2020 provides a down payment on the technologies that will be critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector, industry, and buildings and addressing climate change. This focus on research, development, and demonstration will create high-quality jobs and ensure the United States continues to lead the world in the clean energy future. The Energy Act also reauthorizes popular and effective programs like ARPA-E and the Weatherization Assistance Program and creates new programs to facilitate the transferal of technologies to the private sector,” Manchin said.